profumo di bosco

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europeista

New Member
Italian
Hi everybody, how would you translate "profumo di bosco" into English? Beware: Italian can be quite subtle and it distinguishes between "il profumo DEL bosco" (the smell or scent of the forest, of a given forest) and "il profumo DI bosco" (more generic: you could enter someone's apartment and exclaim "oh, che buon profumo di bosco!" because somebody used an air freshener with a forest-like fragrance). Would you say "scent of the forest" even if it's not a specific forest you're talking about? Or "scent of forest"? "Scent of wood" could be confused with "il profumo/l'odore del legno", so I would not use it. Any clues?
 
  • MR1492

    Senior Member
    English -USA
    At least in AE, we don't have the distinction between the scent of a particular forest (or being in a natural forest) and the scent of a forest generated by an air freshener. So, "scent of the forest" or "a forest scent" would be acceptable.

    Phil
     

    europeista

    New Member
    Italian
    Thank you Phil. How about "scent/smell of forest", with no definite article? Would that sound odd to your ears? If somebody came into your apartment and said "What a nice scent/smell of forest!" or "What a nice scent of THE forest!", which one would sound right/wrong?. The definite article in English is usually used when something is clearly defined, so the second sentence sounds really odd to my ears.
     

    MR1492

    Senior Member
    English -USA
    I think joanvillefane's suggestion is good. My recommendations for a colloquial statement would be:

    What a lovely scent of the forest.
    What a lovely forest scent.

    Note that we can use "condition of the item" (scent of the forest) construction as is usual in Italian or the "item condition" (forest scent) construction which I don't believe exists in Italian. For Italian natives, you won't be wrong using the former but you'll sound more like a native speaker of English if you automatically say, "What a nice forest scent." :)

    Phil
     

    Passante

    Senior Member
    italian
    Perché non usare wood scent? Il suggerimento di Joan mi sembra più vicino all'originale.
    La foresta non è molto più grande?
     

    MR1492

    Senior Member
    English -USA
    You could use "scent of the woods" where woods is a synonym for forest or "a woodsy scent." The rationale is that the OP used "profumo di bosco" and for bosco it's more "forest" or "woods" rather than "wood."
     

    theartichoke

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    You could use "scent of the woods" where woods is a synonym for forest or "a woodsy scent." The rationale is that the OP used "profumo di bosco" and for bosco it's more "forest" or "woods" rather than "wood."
    And "wood scent" would be "profumo di legno," as opposed to "profumo di bosco."
     

    europeista

    New Member
    Italian
    Thanks everybody, you've been very helpful. I seem to understand that using the "noun adjunct" ("forest scent") would not sound strange in an exclamation like "wow, what a nice forest scent (there is in this apartment)!", and that "wow, what a nice scent of THE forest" would sound equally correct. Now, there is usually a big difference in English between using a noun adjunct, which is very generic, and a "OF-genitive" + definite article, which is very specific.

    However, native speakers may feel that they are interchangeable in some specific contexts. In my general understanding, I would have thought that "forest scent" was generic, therefore it could be used e.g. to describe a type of air freshener (the producer could have written "forest scent" on the product box/or "product's box":), but not to say "oh, in this particular apartment I feel at this moment a forest scent", as you woulnd't say "I liked Biden speech" (you'd say "Biden's speech", because the Saxon Genitive is specific), but you would say "that's a typical Biden speech", because that's generic.

    Italian may be subtle, but English is not easier!
     
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